Jack Conklin Should Be Miami Dolphins' No. 1 Draft Target Following 2016 NFL Combine

By Kyle Nishida

After trading with the Philadelphia Eagles, the Miami Dolphins moved back five spots to the 13th overall pick in the NFL Draft. Prior to this trade and the combine, analysts speculated that the Dolphins were looking at cornerbacks and inside linebackers. However, they also picked up cornerback Byron Maxwell and inside linebacker Kiko Alonso in their trade with the Eagles. As a result, these positions are no longer priorities. The Dolphins should focus their energy towards fixing their offensive line and Jack Conklin should be their No. 1 draft target.

After originally walking on at Michigan State University, Conklin immediately became an impact player for the Spartans. He became the team’s starting left tackle during his freshman season and held onto the position throughout his entire college career. In fact, Conklin started in 38 of 39 games he played in for the Spartans and never suffered any major injuries. Everyone believe Conklin was a first-round talent before the combine, but his combine performance solidified him as one of the top players in this draft.

At the combine, Conklin showed scouts everything they already knew about him. However, he also dazzled scouts with a few hidden skills. Conklin showcased his power by earning 25 reps on the 225-pound bench press. This result was not a surprise to scouts because they already knew he had the power and strength to be a starting offensive tackle. Where Conklin surprised scouts was when he participated in the speed and quickness drills. Conklin posted a 5.00-second 40-yard dash and a 4.57-second shuttle time, which proved he is agile enough to deal with speed pass rushers. He also displayed his athleticism by showing his close-range explosiveness and agility in position specific drills.

After surrendering 45 sacks in the 2015 season, the Dolphins desperately looking for better ways to protect quarterback Ryan Tannehill. If they draft Conklin, he will be an immediate starter for them. He has the speed and quickness needed to protect Tannehill’s blind side and keep him from taking huge hits from pass rushers. Additionally, Conklin learned how to be an excellent run blocker at Michigan State. With the Dolphins ranking in the bottom half of the league in rushing yards last season, Conklin’s power run blocking skills will be an added bonus for them.

After their recent trade with the Eagles, the Dolphins should focus on fixing glaring needs in the first round, like the weaknesses in their offensive line. Conklin should be available for the Dolphins to take with the 13th overall pick. If that happens, the Dolphins cannot afford to pass on this future starting left tackle.

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